After a long hiatus sparked by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Promega Art Showcase will return next week with a new exhibition titled “A Vibrant Welcome Back!”
Promega Art Showcase
Why is a biotechnology company hosting an art show?
At its core, science is rooted in creativity. Scientists investigate the unknown and search for novel solutions that can improve our quality of life. We believe that observing and creating art reenergizes the imagination, inspiring scientists to look from new perspectives and step outside of the norms.
Promega has hosted quarterly art showcases in the BioPharmaceutical Technology Center since 1996. These showcases are open to the public and have featured the work of local, national and international artists. Past shows have included sculptors, folk artists, photographers, and painters. The December-March show each year features artwork by Promega employees and their family members.
The 2022 Summer Art Showcase features the work of Derrick Buisch, a painter and professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, alongside Bettina Madini, a European contemporary artist and fashion designer.
November 8th is National STEM/STEAM Day. For 11 years, the University of Wisconsin-Madison Cool Science Image Contest has celebrated and embraced the art of science. The contest illuminates art in the STEM/STEAM field as students, faculty, and staff submit images and videos that capture science or nature and leave a lasting impression of beauty or wonder.
This year’s 2021 submissions were created with point-and-shoot digital cameras, cutting-edge microscopes, and both backyard and mountaintop telescopes. Contestants captured the art of science from the massive to the minute. Winning entries showcased animals and plants, the invisibly small structures all around us, and stars and nebulae resting lightyears away from Earth.
On May 13, 2019, twenty-five meters below the streets of Stockholm in a retired nuclear reactor, Nerea Capon and her iGEM team unveiled an artistic fusion of creativity and synthetic biology. The Synthetic Biology Art Exhibition featured works by other iGEM teams and local artists, all presenting their unique reflections on the concepts of synthetic biology. The collection included synthetic skin grown by bacteria, performance art, and even a musical snail that spent the week crawling around a table full of plants.
It is remarkable to me how quickly in vitro fertilization has gone from an experimental, controversial and prohibitively expensive procedure to becoming a mainstream option for those struggling with fertility issues. What was unheard of in my parents’ generation is nothing extraordinary among my friends who are having children.
It challenges the mind to imagine what reproductive technologies might be widespread when my children and their friends are adults. When experts speculate about the future of human reproduction, there always seems to be a lot of focus on provocative scenarios that portend a dystopian future, such as designer babies. What gets lost are some of the more general scientific advances that are being applied to ART in fascinating ways.
While improvements in reproductive technologies serve many, one group that remains underserved are pediatric cancer patients. As a result of treatment, these patients are often faced with impaired ovarian function that can prevent puberty and result in infertility. In vitro fertilization and ovarian transplants are currently used, but do not provide lasting solutions for all individuals.
In response to this need, researchers are working to develop an organ replacement that can provide long-term hormone function and fertility for all patients. A recent study in Nature Communications presented encouraging results in mice using bioprosthetic ovaries that may further revolutionize the field of ART.
While some may see the Art Showcase that Promega has sponsored for the past 20 years as tangential to the mission of the biotechnology company, these quarterly exhibits of local and global artists contribute to Promega’s commitment to creativity and innovation in the arts, culture and sciences. The exhibits also foster connections between members of the community that probably would not otherwise exist.
It is obvious how the show serves to advance the arts and culture, but its relationship to science is less clear. Based on my experience attending the symposium and viewing the artwork, the science at Promega benefits from this endeavor as well.
Let me begin by describing the work included in this fall’s Art Showcase, “Wis-Con-Sin.” This exhibit features three centuries of Wisconsin photographers that each created life-long photographic projects based in Wisconsin:
Charles Van Schaick (1852-1946) was a studio photographer in Black River Falls, WI who left behind nearly 6,000 glass plate negatives of mostly studio portraits (which have been featured in two books, Wisconsin Death Trip and People of the Big Voice), as well as street scenes, major events in the region, outdoor family and group photos, buildings, picnics, people and livestock.
Eugene Von Bruenchenhein (1910 – 1983) was a self-taught artist who created several thousand works including apocalyptic oil paintings, ceramic crowns and vessels, and photographs that he and his wife Marie collaborated on, staging her in provocative poses and costumes.
J. Shimon & J. Lindemann collaborated as artists since 1983, focusing on rural Wisconsin towns where they both grew up and using antiquarian cameras and printing techniques to record post-industrial settings, rural landscapes, small towns, and shifting modes of life.
There are few areas of human endeavor as rife with error and retrospective hilarity as futurology, the dark art of predicting technological trends. So instead of trying my hand at proclaiming a new direction in human computer interactions, I thought I’d simply report on a couple of projects at the intersection of art and computing that caught my attention at the Eyeo Festival in Minneapolis, a visualization conference held there this past June. Perhaps there’s something more here than separate data points, but I’ll leave that inference up to the reader. Continue reading “Analog is the new digital?”
Three artists who use science as their starting point.
My recent blog conversation (blogversation?) with Michele about the book The Where, The Why and The How stirred me up to think some more about the topic of science-flavored art. That book was full of delightful examples of artists using science as their inspiration; however no matter the topic or style of art, the illustrations never strayed from _illustrating_ the science they referenced. Some were more fanciful than others, but none questioned their basic intent.
Now, in literature there’s an entire genre dedicated to “science flavored” writing that ultimately doesn’t serve to illustrate any actual science concepts. I’m speaking of Science Fiction, of course, and while some early entries in the SF canon erred on the side of scientific accuracy, later practitioners of the genre took great liberties with the science, always ensuring that it served their literary goal and not vice versa. I was raised on a steady diet of Stanisław Lem books, and probably as a result tend not to demand much realism from my fiction.
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3fYTctvTCGg]Art can take many forms—works of art can be soothing, fun, thought-provoking and controversial (some people might even say offensive). If you ask 100 people to define art, I suspect you’ll get 100 different definitions. My definition? Well, I am a logical creature by nature with little interest or talent for expressing myself through colors and shapes, so my definition of art has always been: If I can do it, it’s not art. However, there is one possible exception to that statement: photography. When time permits, I enjoy taking my camera out and photographing ordinary but beautiful things that many people see on a daily basis but don’t often stop to appreciate. My favorite subjects include colorful insects and plants. Continue reading “Speeding Things Up: Time-Lapse Photography”
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